Is the US getting ready to push Israel to declare its nuclear status?

[Updated below] Whatever else can be said about the strained relationship between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, one thing is clear: Obama seems intent on keeping Netanyahu off balance.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu announced he would be returning to Washington next week to attend Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit. Just days later, he had changed his mind, ostensibly because of “fears that a group of Muslim states, led by Egypt and Turkey, would demand that Israel sign up to the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT,” Haaretz reported.

An earlier report in the Jerusalem Post, however, had raised that specific issue and said this would not deter the Israeli prime minister from attending the summit:

[O]ne main argument against participation was that Netanyahu’s presence at an international forum dealing with nuclear issues would inevitably draw attention to Israel’s own reported nuclear arsenal, as well as its policy of ambiguity on whether it has nuclear weapons.

Countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia will certainly – as they do regularly at international nuclear forums – shine the spotlight on Israel and a perceived imbalance: Why is the world so keen on stopping Iran’s nuclear development program, but silent in the face of Israel’s reported nuclear arsenal?

One government official said Netanyahu’s decision to attend, despite this likely scenario, had been made because key issues affecting Israel would be discussed there, and it was important for the Jewish state’s voice to be heard – as well as the realization that Israel’s reported nuclear capacity would be an issue whether Netanyahu participated in the meeting or not.

Earlier, Ynet reported:

US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher spoke with Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon Tuesday and updated him on US President Barack Obama’s new nuclear proliferation policy.

Tauscher said that the US will strive to protect its allies and work against countries which violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) such as North Korea, or countries that fail to meet their commitments to the international community such as Iran.

The under secretary of state stressed that Washington will adopt a “calculated ambiguity” policy towards countries which do not pose a threat to the US. Despite not explicitly pointing to Israel, it appears her statements were meant to reassure the Jewish state.

It’s unclear however, whether the administration’s “calculated ambiguity” was really meant to reassure Israel or do the opposite.

The United States is not on the brink of pushing Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but it could be signalling its willingness to see pressure applied by others as it provides a platform in Washington for such an effort. Moreover, in a little noted move, the Obama administration appears to be using a new diplomatic tool to signal that Israel’s days of “nuclear ambiguity” may be numbered: Israel’s nuclear scientists are now being shut out of the United States.

A report on the Hebrew NRG/Maariv website, under a headline, Dimona reactor workers not welcome in the US, says that workers at Israel’s Dimona nuclear research reactor who submitted visa requests to visit the United States for ongoing university education in physics, chemistry and nuclear engineering, have all been rejected, specifically because of their association with the Dimona reactor. According to the report, this is a new policy decision by the Obama administration, since reactor workers were until recently being issued visas to study in the US.

Update: Shortly after I posted this, Politico reported that the White House today denied that there has been any change in its visa policy.

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7 thoughts on “Is the US getting ready to push Israel to declare its nuclear status?

  1. Renfro

    Israel is being further isolated. It might have the US congress in it’s pocket but there are a lot of Israeli privilages Obama can shut down that aren’t dependent on congress.

  2. Chris Frazier

    Given their unrestrained use of murder on all continents (the polar regions, apparently, excepted), their constant warfare against the weak, and their savage hyena behavior, why should the United States and Israel persist in trying to bring Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions to heel? What makes Iran more dangerous and bellicose than “us” and Israel? “We” armed India and Pakistan with nuclear weapons but make no effort to rein them in. So, what the hell is the true agenda here? Is that hypocrisy I smell in the room?

  3. TimothyL

    It is slowing sinking in to the American public that the manipulation of our foreign policy in service of Israel is behind the talk about the necessity for higher taxes (for you and me) and reduced Medicare Health Insurance (for your elderly parents), to try to reduce our multi-trillion dollar deficit. The post 1967 Israeli-Jewish American effort at becoming a hugely influential (and mostly invisible) force in US politics has been a huge, huge success ….. and where are we ordinary Americans? We pay the bill. A small but typical example is the Medicare Part D (prescriptions) “donut hole” where thousands of sick retirees lose coverage and go on full pay for medications. This monster weakness in Medicare was enacted (about 2004) for one reason only – there wasn’t enough money for full coverage. The cost of the Israel-consequent wars (as I call them) of Afghanistan and Iraq at that time were already nearly a TRILLION dollars… and that was 6-7 years ago. There is an ample rationale to support the view that now, today, to be “pro-Israel” is the be “anti-American taxpayer”. Quibble all you want, this theme resonates. I will certainly apply it in the next Congressional elections.

  4. Norman Morley

    Good comment Chris. One might ask why, if Israel indeed has the “Bomb”, then why shouldn’t some other Middle Eastern Country have it also? I thing it’s panglossian to think Israel doesn’t. As for India & Pakistan having them, they have shown great restraint by not blowing each other off the map. If Iran achieves the goal of having the bomb too, then it seems to me that, like India & Pakistan, both countries, Israel & Iran would show the same restraint. It perhaps also produce a final solution to the Palestinian situation. Face it, mutual destruction is a pretty good deterrent in anybodies book. Assuming that Iran produces a bomb, then a stand off is achieved, I would be willing to venture that the whole of the Middle East would change direction and considering the majority age being I believe now under 30, there could be unification of the whole area, one that could become a real powerhouse, not from the Warmonger state of mind, but one that produces real positive change. As for all the old War hawks, they can be retired, perhaps relocating to some of those uninhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean. As for the old feuding men, the ones who believe that Women are only good to cook, have babies, denigrating them in the process, the too can be relocated, perhaps to the Empty Quarter or some such place. This might read somewhat radical, but so far, nothing else seem to have worked.

  5. Ian Arbuckle

    Is the US getting ready to push Israel to declare its nuclear status?
    No, It’s mustering a new show of clever artefacts and devices exhibited for morons, to be put in a narrow row which leads to a fabricated justification for a military attack on Iran using nuclear weapons within the next few months.

    This empire cannot survive because it cannot cultivate peace. It can only gain, another day, another stay of execution for its condemned and damned system, that derives advantage merely for the few elite, they that hide behind their servants, those sic decrepit old sociopathic morons who continue to lead their own to misery and the world to slavery and slaughter; the empire will only survive another hour, another day for these bloodsuckers to feed their last supper by the destruction and evil of war. The empire has lost any power to reason, only it can threaten, bully, coerce, tyrannise and eventually, inevitably mindlessly kill again and again and again.

    If you lost all your tools so that your only one tool left is now a hammer, then I guess all your problems will have to be nails. And if they are not, then just use the hammer anyway until they go away.

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